Rob Kovacs is an award-winning composer, pianist and singer/songwriter. He fronts the indie-rock bands, Return of Simple and Math + Logic and is the creator of 88bit where he performs note-for-note piano arrangements of Nintendo soundtracks. He was the pianist for the FiveOne Experimental Orchestra, and is an artist in residence for the Arts and Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.
Kovacs is the first person to perform the solo version of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase by simultaneously playing both piano parts on two pianos. Has has performed with other contemporary classical groups including No Exit Ensemble, the Lima Symphony and was the main pianist for the Five One Experimental Orchestra for the final three years of their existence.
Kovacs’ band, Return of Simple, performs his original music regionally. They’ve released one record, Saffron, which was played on satellite, college and Pandora radio. They’ve performed for many festivals and events including MusikFest, Larchmere Porchfest, Lakewood Arts Festival, and the Scene Music Festival to name a few. A second record is due out this year.
Kovacs has composed music for American Greetings’ e-cards and several award-winning short films notably PheMIMEnon (2012 Best Film), Game On (2014 Contest Winner), and Einsam (2016 Best Film), and Al.A.In.A (2018 Best Score) all for the Cleveland 48-hour Film Project. He is also the composer and sound designer for the virtual reality game, Straylight.
Kovacs was recognized as the 2008 Best Pianist/Keyboardist by the Cleveland Free Times (n.k.a. The Scene). He has performed and recorded with other artists including Mark Mothersbaugh, Mega Ran, Parson James, Sandra Bernhard, Rob Rokicki, Natalie Weiss, Rachel Potter, Grace Love, Margot Bingham, Herzog, Leonard DiCosimo and others. Kovacs also performed regularly as a dueling pianist at Cleveland’s Howl at the Moon as well as other dueling piano bars from New York City to Wisconsin. Kovacs held a six-week residency at the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern.
Kovacs has arranged and performed over 50 songs from the original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) with hie project, 88bit. He has performed this music for many major events including the Super MAGFest, PAX South, Pax West, the Mensa National Gathering, NeoSonic Fest (2x), and Classic Game Fest (2x) to name a few. 88bit has been interviewed by many publications including Game Informer, for “The Sound of Applause” on WCPN 90.3 and www.blownspeakers.com.
Currently, Kovacs and be seen performing for “Singers Night” weekly at the Bar 107 on Wednesdays, at Valenti’s restaurant on Saturdays, WXYZ Bar on Tuesdays, Distill Table on Thursdays and is an artist in residence for the Arts and Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Kovacs also travels the country performing as 88bit for various video game or comic themed conventions. Kovacs also teaches private piano and composition lessons.
Fun fact: At the age of eight, Kovacs was a Cleveland semifinalist in the 1990 Nintendo World Championships.
Hi! I love performing and composing, and I have a strong passion for teaching other musicians to do the same. From living in New York City and Cleveland, I've done all kinds of music jobs such as:
- Contemporary Classical music
- Dueling Pianos
- Hospital Music
- Rock band keyboardist
- Lounge pianist
- Accompanist for musical theater auditions
- Accompanist for solo singers
- Music Director - Church
- Music Director - Musicals
- Musical pit musician
- Choir accompanist
- High School staff pianist
- Short Films
- Arranging songs for musicals
- Songwriting for bands
My Teaching Style
During our first lesson, my goal is to understand a bit about you - Why are you taking lessons? What do you want to improve on? Do you have specific goals you want to achieve with your music? What are you struggling with? Etc. From there, we will focus the direction of the lessons towards your specific goals.
- Fundamentals: Scales and chords are the basis of all music and piano playing. Having a firm understanding and ability to execute scales and chords/arpeggios with ease will allow you to play anything. If you aren't totally solid here, I will love to help you learn these fundamentals through simple drills based on your current level.
- Practicing: Practicing makes...permanent. How you practice determines what you learn. Before I moved to NYC, I had been reading and researching more about the brain and understanding how it learns. I had to revamp my way of practicing to get myself to the next level. I will teach you not only what to practice but HOW to practice, so that you will be able to both memorize and execute accurately the piece you are trying to play.
- Sight-Reading: I was a horrible sight-reader for most of my life. I spent most of my time memorizing everything and playing by ear. Even after graduating from a music conservatory, I still had no confidence in sight-reading. Fast forward to today; I can sit in an audition room and confidently sight-read anything a singer brings to me. Learning to sight-read is just like learning to read language or books. You need to do it a little bit each day but with a few guidelines.
- Theory: Theory is simply understanding how music works. Knowing this helps you to have a deeper connection with the music your playing or composing. To many people, theory seems so complex, but it's really simple when it's broken down. I love teaching theory and would be happy to help you in this area.
- Improvisation: This is a skill every pianist should have. Not only does it allow you to handle scary moments when something goes wrong, but improvising is so fun! The piano is a playground. Learning to improvise will help you to find again or increase your joy or playing.
- Technique: How we touch the keyboard greatly affects our ability to play it. Ideally, we want to play with as little tension as possible. I will help you to eliminate tension, find fingerings to promote relaxation and strengthen the connection between your brain and your fingertips.
And there are more areas to cover as well! Rythm, interpretation, phrasing, ornaments, contemporary techniques, ear training, hand independence (a personal favorite!). I'd be happy to work with you on whatever area you're struggling with.
Thanks for reading all this and I hope to talk soon!